City May Improve Flow of Health Data with State

City councilors said public health data being shared between the state and city is often months behind, which hurts identifying public health issues.

Boston health officials want to improve the process used to share health data with the state, saying the current process has a months-long lag that hurts health improvement measures.

The  on Wednesday supported a measure to improve health data sharing between the city and state. The home rule petition, which would create a streamlined process between the state and the Boston Public Health Commission to share public health data, was originally endorsed by the council in 2011.

Massachusetts doesn't have county public health commissions, so the Boston Public Health Commission, which was created in 1996, plays that role. 

"This streamlines the situation, and make partnerships with the City and state more fluid," said District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley, chair of the Government Operations Committee. "This would change the way that data is collected. We could share records of birth, deaths, infectious diseases reports, injury data and emergency room reports. Right now, the state is months behind providing data, this would streamline it."

O'Malley said providing public health data could help identify health trend quicker, such as environmental factors contributing to health problems.

The council's vote sends the petition to Beacon Hill for the legislature's approval and governor's signature. Both must happen before the end of July for the petition to take effect.


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